“Cautiva,” Gastón Biraben

By Laura Cossette

The film Cautiva tells the story of an adolescent girl who learns that she is the daughter of desaparecidos. The film begins with her life before she discovers her true background, showing that she is very happy with, what she believes to be, her family. An interesting bit of foreshadowing is the disturbance that occurs in one of Cristina’s classes towards the beginning of the film. During a history lesson, a fellow classmate has an outburst in which she tells of what really happened during the Dirty War; she speaks of all the people who disappeared. She does this because she is, in fact, the daughter of desaparecidos. The story progresses and we see that Cristina does have a rebellious side, she is seen smoking cigarettes in the bathroom, but overall she gets along perfectly with her family and seems to have a desirable life. However, her world is flipped upside down when she is told by a judge that she is the daughter of a man and a woman who are desaparecidos. She is subsequently taken from the home where she was living, and she lives with her biological grandmother.

At first, Cristina refuses to accept the circumstances she is put in and still wants to live with her appropriators. She is clearly angry and confused and does not want to lead the life of Sofia Lombardi, which she is told is her birth name. However, with the help of her friend Angelica, her former classmate, who is also the daughter of a desaperecido, she gradually begins piecing her life together. Although the transition is rough, Cristina slowly begins to adjust to her new life. She meets many members of her biological family, and eventually forms a very strong bond with her grandmother. She reaches a point where she accepts the life of Sofia Lombardi and rejects the life she used to live as Cristina.

The most striking thing about Cautiva to many of the members of our Learning Cluster was its irrefutable resemblance to the life of Victoria Donda. After having read Donda’s book, My Name is Victoria, we all saw many things in common between the two stories, however, there is no reference to Donda’s book or her, so as of now it is simply a theory we have. Overall, it was a very powerful movie that offered a much more tangible insight into the life and experiences of an appropriated child. The visual representations of Cristina/Sofia’s emotional struggles made the experience more real and relatable. Cautiva is a very valuable film in understanding the history of Argentina and the battle that appropriated children face once they learn about their true roots and have to face Argentina’s bloody history firsthand.

Documental producido por el Taller de la Memoria, Colegio Nicolás Avellaneda

Los lápices eran de colores

By Miho Saito

The students of Nacional Nicolás Avellaneda created a documentary based on the theme of their workshop: Memory. Their story is dedicated to the alumni of their high school who have disappeared during the military dictatorship and for the next coming generation of youth who are fighting for their rights. 
The documentary begins with the making of flagstones that were placed on the sidewalk in front of the high school to commemorate the disappeared students. The scene, then transitions to testimonies given by those who were affected by the disappearances of their loved ones- a man who was politically active during the height of the military regime, a mother and a sister of a desaparecido. From the testimonies of the past, the film takes the viewers to the here and now, linking the struggles of Argentina’s rich history to the struggles of the youth in the political scene today. 
The sister of a desaparecido describes how she understands and doesn’t blame today’s youth for not being as politically involved because of the fear that still exists: “No porque a los jóvenes no les interesa sino porque la historia vivida nos ha arrasado e hizo que todos perdamos interes o que tengamos mucho miedo de volver a comprometermos.” However, she believes that if youth want change, they need to do something about it: “Los aliento a que sigan en ese camino, en el camino de la lucha, hacerse valer, yo creo que esa es la única forma.” 
This documentary symbolizes the importance of transmitting memory. Just as memories of our own unique past are always present with us, the memory of Argentina’s heavy history is still an influential force in the country today. We learn from our past: The history of Argentina tells youth to continue fighting for their rights and to carry on what their brothers and sisters of the generation before had started. In the last scenes of the film, a student says in her speech: “misión de callar el silencio.” It is the youth’s mission to silence the silence that surrounded the crimes against those that were disappeared. 
As young people today, our responsibility is to continue coloring our history with bright colors so the dark shades of the past remain in the past…

Los lapices eran somos de colores y seguiremos escribiendo

Crónica de una fuga

By Monse Sepúlveda

In 1977, Claudio Tamburrini, a 17 year old young man, was kidnapped and locked up in the detention center, “Mansion Sere.” There, Claudio meets Guillermo, “El Vasco” and “El Gallego,” three men with whom he goes through months of tortures, terror and suffering at the hands of the Argentinean military. After four months of captivity, and faced with their imminent execution, Claudio and his three cellmates decide to escape. On a rainy night and completely naked, they jump down through the window of the detention center After hiding in abandoned houses for a few hours, El Vasco decides to seek help, and manages to get in contact with the father of “El Gallego,” who drives down to meet with them, saving the lives of the three men left in the abandoned house. 
This is an extremely powerful movie. The opening scene, when the military is torturing Claudio’s family for information leading to his abduction, helps us connect with the suffering of the families who saw their relatives disappear under black hoods. As Claudio is being taken away, he shouts out: “just let me tell my mother where I’m going.” This simple detail added into the movie, reveals perhaps one of the deepest scars the military regime left behind: thousands of shattered families. 

The movie also conveys to the audience, in a grueling and painful way, the horrors that took place inside the detention centers and the torture methods used. Words so often reading in articles or books, such as “interrogation” or “electric rod” take fuller meaning in this film. One of the most shocking scenes, in my opinion, was when “El Tano,” another detainee, is informed that he will be “transferred” to another facility. With what sadness do we see “El Tano” offer his arm to receive a sedative that will only make it easier for the military to push him off a plane into the Rio de la Plata. 

Reading and writing can only take us so far. That much I have always been sure of. And the case of the Argentinean genocide is no different. Perhaps those of us who never went through that will never understand. But that is no reason to quit trying, and this effort must take us beyond reading books and articles, for they provide but a glimpse of what it meant for thousands of people to be incarcerated in detention centers around the country. The movie “Cronica de una Fuga”, which tells the story of young men who escaped a detention center in 1977, is part of decades of effort to understand the years of the military regime, and the myriad of human experiences during these years. It shows not only shows the unlikely escape of these men, but unearths the truth of the atrocities committed by the military in the detention centers.